§ 16. Mr. David Marshall
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the timetable for the completion of discussions on the future of British Council posts abroad. 
§ Mr. Marshall
Do the Government appreciate the value of the British Council to the long-term economy of the United Kingdom? Does the Secretary of State realise that his penny-pinching proposals to reduce the number of countries in which the British Council has offices is counterproductive and will eventually cost us dearly? Will he therefore reconsider that penny wise, pound foolish policy?
§ Mr. Rifkind
The hon. Gentleman is totally misinformed; the Government have put forward no such proposals. Under the Government, the number of countries in which the British Council operates has increased from 79 to 109 and the number of its offices has increased from 108 to 229. The Government have a clear, firm policy of not wanting any overseas closures, and we are currently working with the British Council to ensure the success of that policy.